Page Two

Free Speech Editorial


A matter of ethics and clean elections:
A proposed change to CRA bylaws

This unit, along with many others, believes that all republican organizations should remain as autonomous as possible, and this means autonomous within the guidelines of our charter and according to the bylaws of the State CRA and the republican party which we serve.   Therefore, we strongly believe that CRA members serving as paid representatives on the staff of a candidates should be should not hold a leadership position within the CRA at either state or local level.   To allow them to continue to serve as leaders presents at the very least the specter of a "conflict of interest" and at worst, it could lead to flagrant manipulation of a CRA unit.  In most cases this is done for the sole purpose of getting the highly valued CRA endorsement. 

From past experience we know this race for the endorsement creates division within our organization.  Further, the state and national Republican party bylaws prohibit even offering their endorsements during a primary race because it pits one group of republicans against another and this leads to division and acrimony within that is not easily repaired and you know what they say about a house divided.  

We are proposing to the State CRA, that we draft a bylaw to prevent such a [conflict of interest] as I have just explained and that we do it solely for the good of the party and the people of this state that we all serve.     

For us, this decision was as easy as it was clear.  It's a simple matter of integrity and avoiding the perception corruption!  This is a selfless act, with no hidden agenda.  We're doing it only to pursue our sense of honesty and integrity.  After all, the future value of our CRA endorsements is at risk if we don't.   
We've known for several elections that candidates will on  occasion create CRA units in advance of the primary for the sole purpose of rendering an endorsement for themselves.  After the election is over those newly created CRA units often cease to be active and they just fade away.  But, even if they don't, their creation was part of the [fruit of the poisoned tree] and they should not continue without a revision to our bylaws that would give them complete autonomy to act on their own and not to do the bidding of one candidate.  

The co-opting of existing CRA units or the creation of new units for the express purpose of rendering an endorsement to the candidate they are beholding too does not serve the best interests of the voters of this state or the CRA.   It is a manifest manipulation of the electoral process and we should not be a part of such things!  Yes, it is technically legal, but it's not in keeping with our high moral code of conduct.   Further, this action forces others candidates to resort to same tactic in order to keep pace with their opposition who is seeking this advantage.  In this context, the problem will become endemic to future elections, if not stopped now!   We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking the [moral] high road.     

Because we encourage all candidates to conduct themselves in the most forthright manner and this means avoiding mud slinging, deceit and corrupt pracitices, we feel compelled to offer up this bylaw change.  We do it for you our members and the voters. 

It is clear to us that eventually this reform will become a bylaw, if
not this year, then some day soon because it is right!  

Some candidates might be willing to do whatever it takes to win, but we're not going to be a party to that and we're standing fast on our belief that this higher ground approach to keeping a conflict of interest out of our election process is the only way to go.

This has not been an entirely popular suggestion by any means, because several influential and high ranking persons within the GOP and the CRA have a vested interest in protecting the status-quo.   They don't want this change!  Look at who is opposing it and who they work for, then you will know their real agenda.

Those conflicted persons see this reform as a direct threat to their candidate.  Further, they have worked hard to obtain their leadership position in order to serve their employer/candidate and they don't want this change right when they are poised to help bring their sponsor a victory!  Their future is on the line, and they naturally want to protect their own self- interests, even if it is at the cost of our ethics.  And this is why some of these campaign people have challenged our local CRA organization in a smear campaign to discredit us by any means.  By doing so, they obviously hoped to discourage us and cause us to drop our proposal for cleaner elections under the guise of "lets all get along" and restore our working relationship, but the real agenda is less honorable.   That extortion and coercion will not work on us, for too much is at stake and we can't compromise our ethics for harmony or an election.     

Of course we've been surprised, disappointed and extremely dismayed that a few of our key fellow CRA/GOP members should seek to protect their own interests by maligning ours, but as I have said, they have a lot at risk.  And while we may not like it, we can understand their reasoning.  However,  if this is the price of standing up for what is right and good, then so be it!  We shall not waiver and we are moving forward to propose this bylaw change at the 2010 convention and we hope we will have your support.   With the support of honest and wise people, we shall succeed and we shall remove this blight, this ethical cancer, from our California Republican Assembly, God willing!

Note:  Written by Jack Lee, 1 Feb. 2010.  Mr. Lee is an independent member of the CRA and the former Chair of the Butte County Central Committee.  The views expressed coincide with those of the North Butte County CRA unit.  This bylaw change was voted on and approved by the local members in 2009 and it remains a work in progress and it is subject to amendment for legal reasons, however the idea remains the same.  

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